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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Brycen Martin scores a goal in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets goaltender Cole Kehler watches the puck in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Former Komets hockey players take the ice to be recognized by fans before the season opener against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Mason Bergh watches for the puck in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Max Gottlieb make a move for the puck in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Matthew Boudens skates down the ice in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets goaltender Cole Kehler reaches to catch the puck in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Jason Binkley takes a shot at the net in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Brycen Martin scores a goal in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Shawn Szydlowski watches for the puck in the first period against Kalamazoo at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  

Saturday, October 12, 2019 10:50 pm

Komets victorious in 68th opener

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Komets’ 68th season – and the 30th under the ownership of the Franke family – started in fine form tonight at Memorial Coliseum.

Rookie Matthew Boudens scored twice and participated in a fight. Fellow rookies Alan Lyszczarczyk and Mason Bergh also scored. And the Komets, led by superior special teams and goaltending, emerged with a 5-2 victory over the division-rival Kalamazoo Wings, who had an awful moment when one of their players put the puck in his own net during the second period.

Fort Wayne scored on 2 of 4 power plays and got a short-handed goal. Kalamazoo was 0 for 6 with the man-advantage.

Cole Kehler stopped 41 shots for the Komets. Kalamazoo’s Jake Kielly stopped 22 shots.

(Video highlights from the game are above.)

The Komets have a new head coach, Ben Boudreau, and an almost entirely new cast of players this season, and it didn’t take them long to get the crowd of 9,505 buzzing.

On the first shot, just 18 seconds into the first period, defenseman Brycen Martin’s snap from the left circle squeaked between the legs of Kielly and crept into the net.

The Komets took a 2-0 lead on their eighth shot, at 10:19, when Lyszczarczyk attacked the net, fired the puck, got his own rebound and smacked it past Kielly. Lyszczarczyk is the first player from the Polish national team to play a professional hockey game in North America since the Washington Capitals’ Wojtek Wolski in 2012-13.

Kalamazoo’s Justin Taylor scored at 19:41 by battling through a scrum in front of the net and chipping the puck over Kehler, who is on assignment from the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

Fort Wayne answered with another power-play goal, for a 3-1 lead, when a tic-tac-toe play culminated with Boudens shooting into an open net 2:47 into the second period. Mason Bergh’s and Shawn Szydlowski’s pinpoint passing set it up.

Things got worse for the Wings at 7:07 when Aaron Thow skated out from behind his own net and lost control of the puck as Boudens blindly poked at it. Thow swept it backhand between his own goalie and the post, giving Fort Wayne a short-handed goal and a 4-1 lead. Boudens got credit for the goal.

Boudens fought Dylan Sadowy at 13:42 but received a match penalty from referee Jacob Rekucki – it wasn’t apparent why – meaning Boudens will face a mandatory review from the ECHL office before he can play again.

Kalamazoo’s Adam Dauda scored on a one-timer at 19:20.

The Komets had an excellent chance to build on their lead 8:16 into the third period, but Brady Shaw was foiled by Kielly at the end of a breakaway. Bergh did cement the victory with a late empty-netter. 

The Komets, who were 6-6-1 last season against the Wings, are off until Friday’s game at the Coliseum against the Wheeling Nailers.

Notes: As expected, Boudreau didn’t select a captain to start the season. The alternates for the first game were Szydlowski, Jason Binkley and A.J. Jenks. … The American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves called up goalie Dylan Ferguson from Fort Wayne before the game. There was a trickle-down effect in the Vegas Golden Knights’ system because of an injury to goalie Malcolm Subban. … Szydlowski’s grandfather, Carl Lüpp Jr., was honored as the night’s “Hometown Hero.” He served in the Navy during the Korean War. … Matt Brassard and Brad Ross started the season on injured reserve. … The Komets won their opener last season 3-1 at Indy, then lost the next five.

jcohn@jg.net